December 11, 2013

Photo of the Week: Dec. 13, 2013

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Nothing illustrates nature’s ephemeral beauty quite like a snowstorm in the Middle East. Although temperatures frequently approach freezing during winter here, the conditions for snow accumulation only converge about once every three years.  And when snow does fall, it usually vanishes entirely within a day. The upside is most everyone loves the heck out of it, especially kids, who get to skip school and frolic outdoors.

From a creative perspective, snow transforms the landscape into something entirely new, full of promise and adventure as every rock, branch and leaf takes on a new personality. Over the past decade, grapevines have become the plant of choice for farmers working the hills of Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem. They drop their leaves in fall and require careful pruning to boost fruit growth. These vines have received their winter haircuts and the numerous spindly tendrils hold the powdery snow in tender balance. 

Snow is one of the trickier subjects for cameras to handle, because, in short, the camera doesn’t know that it’s supposed to be white.  Because snow is so bright and reflective, the camera underexposes the scene and snow will appear muddy, dull and gray. To override this problem, it’s best to force an overexposure – by using either exposure compensation or adjusting manually – by at least one stop, probably two, depending on how much of the scene includes white. Having mastered that, you can set your camera aside and get to work on the snowman. 

TECHNICAL DATA:Camera: Nikon D70, tripod-mounted, center-weighted metering mode. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 70-300 zoom at 180 mm, f/11 at 1/400 sec., ISO 400. Date: Dec. 28, 2006, 8:52 a.m. Location: Gush Etzion, Judean Mountains near Efrat.